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Working With Your Child’s Educators During Deployment

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jerry Foltz/Released

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jerry Foltz/Released

Throughout the deployment cycle, service members and their families experience many changes, including shifting roles and responsibilities as well as new routines. Children may experience stress as a result, but parents and guardians can help them build resilience by actively engaging with their child’s educators – including school administrators, counselors and teachers. During this time of change, the stability and predictability of school can be a source of support for your child.
With the considerable amount of time children spend at school, educators are allies to parents and children alike. When parents and guardians are more involved in their child’s school, students are more likely to achieve, enjoy school and have better relationships with their families. Communicating with your child’s school throughout a deployment helps educators better understand the potential stressors your child might be facing outside of the classroom – and helps educators to best identify any behavioral concerns your child may be exhibiting while at school. This article provides tips on working with your child’s educators to create a supportive environment for your child while a parent is deployed.

Talking to Teachers Before Deployment

Before a deployment, schedule time for you and your spouse or child’s guardian to speak with your child’s school administrators, counselors and teachers about the upcoming transition. As teachers are busy with students during the school day, scheduling in advance can be helpful. When reaching out to your child’s educators, you and your family should be prepared to:

  • Discuss the anticipated length of the deployment.
  •  Explain that there may be an increase in stress experienced at home.
  • Share your child’s anticipated new residence, if that will change.
  • Make a plan with your child’s teacher on how you both can provide constructive assistance to your child through times of adjustment. Talk about where and how you can both redirect him or her to previous levels of success should concerns arise.
  •  Ask about forthcoming classroom activities so you know what your child will be working on while you or your spouse are away.
  • Schedule future conferences with your child’s teacher, as appropriate, to stay up-to-date on how your child is doing with their schoolwork, and for insight on how he or she is coping with deployment.
  • Ask the teacher about how you can best stay in touch with them if you are able.
If a guardian will care for your child during the deployment, introduce him or her to the teacher and school administrators to establish a connection before you are deployed. This will help prevent any confusion for the school in your absence.

Staying In Touch While Deployed

The most important thing a parent can do during a deployment is to stay in touch. If you are deploying or deployed, find out what’s going on in school from your child as a means of staying involved in their routines when you are able. When engaging with your child:

Staying Engaged While At Home

If you are a parent or guardian at home during a deployment, you will be assuming additional responsibilities for a child’s education and, as a result, you may need to establish a stronger relationship with the school. Meet with your child’s teacher or school administrators to find out if the school is supportive of potential opportunities for you to educate your child’s classmates on deployment. Activities can include:
  • Providing the school or teacher with maps and globes so students can see where U.S. troops are located. The topic of deployment can lend itself to topics such as geography, social studies (for example, the culture of other countries) or math (for example, miles to various locations via different modes of transportation).
  • Sharing information with the class about the deployment by sending audio or video tapes of a deployed parent to school with the child.
  • Working with teachers, as appropriate, to help start a service project or group for students to send care packages to deployed warriors. Talk to your child’s teacher about the class writing and illustrating a book to send to the deployed parent and his/her unit.
  • Suggesting your child’s class create a welcome home banner for when a parent returns.

Additional Resources

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